C’s Chat – Brandon Polizzi

Vancouver Canadians Brandon Polizzi

Brandon Polizzi takes a practice swing before an at-bat at Nat Bailey Stadium August 20.


Here is one from the archives. I had a chance to chat with Vancouver Canadians outfielder Brandon Polizzi prior to their game against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes on August 12 at Nat Bailey Stadium. He was a month into his season in Vancouver after getting called up from the Bluefield Blue Jays in early July. Polizzi started his pro career in the Appalachian League after being selected in the 35th round of the 2017 draft by Toronto out of Cal State-Dominguez Hills, the same school that 2011 C’s outfielder Kevin Pillar attended. Polizzi was a first-team All-CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Assocation) All-Star after batting .381 with 14 stolen bases for the Toros.

I first asked Polizzi about how he was adjusting to his first year as a pro.

“Every season, everybody has peaks and valleys. Right now, I’m in a little valley but I’m starting to rise up. (I still have) confidence. I know I can play this game. I know I can hang with these guys. I’m not overmatched or anything. I’m just out here having fun.”

Polizzi on what he is working on in the batter’s box.

“Just seeing the ball. Work on hitting line drives. I’m not the type of guy that’s going to leave the yard. I’ll get one, maybe two (homers) but my game is hit the ball on the ground, hit line drives in the gap. I’m a gap to gap guy”.

Polizzi on his style of game.

“I’m a guy that can run. I play the outfield. I’m supposed to be tracking down balls and throwing guys out. Bunting is a big part of my game. If I’m 0-for-3 and if I’m hitting line drives at everybody and if (the infield is) going to play you back, I’m going to drop a bunt and get on first and help my team score. That’s my job, get on first anyway I can.”

Polizzi on who he would compare his style of game to.

“I don’t like to compare myself to anybody really but I’d have to say Kevin Pillar. I don’t like losing. I play this game hard. Even during our little bunt practice we were doing, I’m was running 110 percent because that’s who I am. Give it 110 percent every single time.”

Polizzi on Pillar’s legacy at his alma mater.

“He is still the face of Cal State Dominguez Hills. Nobody can take that away from him. He’s absolutely the guy. If you go to Cal State Dominugez, you better know who Kevin Pillar is.”

Vancouver Canadians Brandon Polizzi

Brandon Polizzi was called up from Bluefield to Vancouver on July 4.

Polizzi on switching jersey numbers from #37—the number Pillar wore for Vancouver during its 2011 Northwest League championship run—to #2.

“The (#37) jersey was just too big. I’m only a 5-10, 170 pound dude so I can’t fit in an extra large. If it was my choice, I’d still be wearing (number) four.”

Polizzi wore #4 during his college days but that number in Vancouver was taken by manager Rich Miller.

Polizzi on how he got started playing baseball.

“My dad just said, let’s go play something. Alright, so I’m playing baseball, just playing catch with him and I just fell in love with it. I used to pick up the little balls at Chuck E. Cheese where you can just throw all over in the jungle pit, or whatever they’re called. My dad bought me my own little jungle pit for my bedroom when I was two or three (years old) and I used to throw those things around so I was always doing baseball motions so I just fell in love with baseball.”

Polizzi on who helped him out during his career.

“(Mariners area scout) Gary Patchett, (former major leaguer) Carl Nichols, (Cal State-Dominguez Hills coach Murphy Su’a, my father, Joe Magno. I can’t be more grateful (as they helped) me get here today.”

Polizzi on winding up at Cal-State Dominguez Hills.

“I had the interest of bigger colleges. I had Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach and a couple of other top D-1 (Division 1) schools. But I was actually committed to a school called Doan, a little NAIA (school). I was verbally committed.

The day I got my paperwork, a guy named Murphy Su’a who was the head coach at Cal-State Dominguez Hills calls me and goes, ‘Hey, have you signed your paperwork?’ I said ‘No’. He goes, ‘Why don’t you take a drive down to Cal-State Dominguez Hills, it’s only 10-15 minutes away.” I said, ‘Okay’.

I sat down, talked with him. Absoultely fell in love with that guy. That guy is one of the best baseball minds I’ve ever been around. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come and play,’ so that’s what got me to come to Dominguez Hills”.


Brandon Polizzi split time in center field, second base and shortstop with Cal State-Dominguez Hills in 2017 before playing in left and right field with Vancouver.

Polizzi on when he began playing in the outfield.

“I grew up as an infielder. I was always a shortstop, second baseman. I’ve only been playing the outfield for two to three years.”

Polizzi on his outfield preference.

“Center field, that’s my spot. I like running around knowing I got left and right. I can play anywhere, left field, right field, middle infield. I’m a versatile guy.”

Polizzi on playing in the outfield at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“The ball (doesn’t) fly real well in left field. The ball definitely doesn’t go out in center. It’s not that hard. I just go out there, tracking balls down and having fun.”

Vancouver Canadians Brandon Polizzi

Brandon Polizzi batted .347 over his three-year career at Cal State-Dominguez Hills.

Polizzi on his draft day experience.

“I was actually sitting at home. I got some friends texting me and asking me, ‘hey, have you been drafted? No, not yet’ so I’m just sitting there. I had about eight teams call me after the 10th round, going ‘Hey you know, expect your name to be called early’, I said ‘Okay’, so I got about 20 phone calls from eight teams (saying), ‘Hey, sit tight, we’re going to get you, sit tight.’ So I’m sitting there and going, ‘Okay, is it going to happen? Sooner or later, right?’

The 30th round comes along and I’m sitting there (thinking), ‘Okay, I’ve only got 10 rounds left,’ so I’m squirming a little bit. It went down to two teams, the Royals and the Blue Jays.

The 34th round came along and the Royals passed and the Blue Jays passed so I said, ‘Okay’. I felt like (the 35th round) was going to be the round so the next thing you know, the Royals passed and I was like ‘Okay, I’m probably going to be a Blue Jay in the next couple of rounds.’

So I’m sitting there, my brother is in the room. He goes, ‘Oh crap!’ He got to know before me and the next thing I know, my phone goes off. ‘Brandon Polizzi, 35th, Cal-State Dominguez Hills, 35th round by the Blue Jays’ It was an exciting moment for my family and I. They’ve been on this journey with me. This is not just my dream but their dream as well. Everything they’ve done for me, I couldn’t be more than grateful for the parents I have.

Polizzi on his father’s premonition he would wind up in the Blue Jays organization.

“He was talking to me since the beginning of the college year, going ‘I think you’re going to be a Blue Jay’ I mean, ‘How do you know? It’s already January’ ‘I think you’re going to be a Blue Jay’. ‘I said, ‘Okay’. It’s funny so I’m a Blue Jay.”

Polizzi on meeting Kevin Pillar.

“I talked to Kevin before the season started. In February he came out just before spring training. He came out to the school. I just got done working out by myself. I know who that is. I walked up to him and he goes, ‘Who’s the center fielder?’ ‘That’s me’, ‘Okay, good. You’re holding the fort down, keep doing a good job’

I’ve talked to him. My agent is really close friends with him so obviously I know a lot about Kevin Pillar. I’ve been picking his brain during the off-season and how on how he prepares for the season and all of that good stuff.”

Polizzi on the C’s winning the first-half North Division championship.

“It took me back to last summer when we won the first half and the second half for the Wisconsin Rapids (when) I played in the Northwoods League. That’s basically what this is. Maybe a couple of more games here but it was a blast. It prepared me for this season.”

Polizzi would get to celebrate one more time in 2017 as he was in left field when the final out was recorded in the fourth and  clinching game of the Northwest League championship against the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium.

My thanks to Brandon Polizzi for this interview.

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C’s Recap – Zeuch, Case & Davis Lead Peoria To Arizona Fall League Championship

Vancouver Canadians T.J. Zeuch

2016 Vancouver Canadians righthander T.J. Zeuch was the winning pitcher in the 2017 Arizona Fall League championship game.

C's RecapSix former Vancouver Canadians are getting a championship ring as their Peoria Javelinas upended the Mesa Solar Sox 8-2 in the Arizona Fall League final at Scottsdale Stadium Saturday.

2016 C’s pitcher T.J. Zeuch got the start for the Javelinas and he was greeted by three solid singles and a sacrifice fly that gave the Solar Sox a 2-0 lead four batters in before getting a double-play ball to end the frame. The second inning saw the 6-foot-7 hurler give up two more hits in the second but he kept Mesa off the board. Zeuch had his first 1-2-3 inning in the third and got another double play ball to end a one-hit fourth. He faced the minimum for a third time with a perfect fifth. Zeuch gave up a base hit to start the sixth but erased that by inducing his third double play grounder of the day. However, he gave up another single and that was the end of the line for the 2016 Toronto Blue Jays first rounder.


Andrew Case contributed 1-1/3 innings of perfect relief in the AFL title game for Peoria.

The ball was turned over to 2014-2015 C’s righthander Andrew Case. The Saint John, New Brunswick native sat down all four hitters he faced by getting an inning-ending strikeout in the sixth before getting three fly ball outs in the seventh, the last two caught by his 2014 C’s teammate, center fielder Jonathan Davis.

The Javelinas leadoff hitter helped lead their comeback by taking one for the team in the third. He would then steal second before scoring on a single by Atlanta Braves prospect Ronald Acuna to tie the game at 2-2. Davis was again hit by a pitch in the fourth to join fellow Blue Jays prospects Lourdes Gourriel Jr. on the bases after he began the frame with a walk. Gourriel and Davis would score on another Acuna single to expand Peoria’s lead to 6-2. Davis would line a triple to center to begin the eighth and would score for the third time on another three-bagger by Boston prospect Michael Chavis for the Javelinas’ seventh run.

Vancouver Canadians Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis reached base three times and scored three times in the AFL championship game.

The C’s trio who saw action in the championship game all wrapped up successful seasons in Arizona. Davis hitting .295/.387/.410 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with six doubles, a home run, 13 runs batted in and stole seven bases in eight attempts in the regular season. Case put up nothing but zeros in his fall ball stint with 10 shutout innings by allowing just eight hits and one walk while striking out six to win both of his decisions. Zeuch posted a 1-1 record with a 3.44 earned run average of 18 innings with a 15-4 K/BB total and a 0.98 WHIP. Zeuch was singled out by MLB.com‘s Jim Callis as one of the 10 standouts from the championship contest.

Even though they did not see any action in Saturday’s game, catcher Max Pentecost (2014), lefthander Danny Young (2015) and Jackson McClelland (2015-2016) will also be fitted for championship bling.

Pentecost struggled with the stick in the AFL by slashing just .195/.267/.293 with one double and one dinger while stealing a base in his only attempt. He struck out 17 times in 41 at-bats. Young also had a rough go of it on the mound with a 16.43 ERA over 7-2/3 innings. McClelland had an ERA of 7.20 over 10 innings but earned a save, finished off four games for Peoria and struck out eight against a pair of walks.

Congratulations to the Vancouver six on becoming Arizona Fall League champions.


C's NotesCongratulations to the Northwest League champion C’s on winning the Ballpark Digest 2017 Continued Excellence Award.

The date for C’s Annual Hot Stove Luncheon is January 26, 2018. Tickets are now on sale. The event is a fundraiser to support the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation.

And now a look at the C’s past and present on Twitter…

Spot the three Vancouver Canadians signatures!


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C’s Chat – William Ouellette

Vancouver Canadians William Ouellette

William Ouellette warms up in the bullpen at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“I might take you down, but I’ll never let you down.” — theme from Shaft 2000.

cs_chat_logoWilliam Ouellette (pronounced ‘ooh-LET’) had plenty of takedowns as closer of the Vancouver Canadians and he never let his team down when he was summoned from the bullpen. The NWL saves leader and a mid-season All-Star, the 24 year-old Ouellette had a season to remember in YVR. He led the way with 13 saves to help the C’s reach the post-season and added three more in the playoffs.  It was save number 16 against the Eugene Emeralds that set off a big celebration that crowned Vancouver as league champions in Game 4 of the NWL final at Nat Bailey Stadium.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound righthander began the season with the Dunedin Blue Jays and earned a victory in three appearances, giving up just one run over 6-1/3 innings during the latter part of May. The son of former major league catcher Phil Ouellette—who played 10 games for the San Francisco Giants in 1986—he was reassigned to Vancouver in time for the start of the C’s regular season.

Though the 24 year-old Ouellette was hoping for a longer stay in Dunedin, the Cal State-San Bernardino product said his first taste of full-season baseball was a good learning experience.

“I would say that being able to pitch in that league (Florida State League) and talk to some of my teammates like Jordan Romano and Ryan Cook and (Ryan) Borucki and (T.J.) Zeuch—just seeing what those guys are about, how they attack hitters, what their game plan is. Also, the pitching coach Mark Riggins. He was pretty helpful with me developing a slider, or the slider that I throw now. The biggest thing was realizing that you have to throw more than one pitch for a strike in Dunedin, in High-A, for me because those guys, they can eliminate a pitch if you can only throw one pitch for a strike so that they can look for that pitch and they can take advantage of it and really punish you there.”

Ouellette on his pitching repertoire.

“I do have a fastball, a slider and a changeup. However, being the closer this year, the role I took upon this year, in that particular role, you don’t want to get beat with your third-best pitch. And for me, the changeup is my third-best pitch. It has come a long ways, considering since I didn’t have one last year. So now that I do have one, I’m confident in throwing it. I just really didn’t get a chance to use it in those high-leverage situations that I was pitching in. I didn’t want to get beat with my third-best pitch.”

Ouellette on being sent down to Vancouver from Dunedin.

“When I first went over there, I wasn’t sure for how long that I was going to be there or I thought, maybe if I pitched there well enough that maybe I could stay (in Dunedin) for the rest of the season if I pitch well and get people out but when I was told I was going back to go and pitch in Vancouver, I found out that I was sent over there because they had a guy that was injured and I was just filling in for him while he was getting healthy. I made the most of it while I was there. I thought I pitched well and I think that it gave me a nice confidence boost going into the season knowing that I can pitch here, I can get people out and I can dominate hitters.”

Vancouver Canadians William Ouellette

William Ouellette pitched two shutout innings to earn his first Northwest League victory against the Spokane Indians at Nat Bailey Stadium June 23.

Ouellette on the moment he realized the C’s had a chance to be a championship club.

“Once we clinched the first half, we were kind of struggling going into that and kind of sort of backed our way into the first-half (North Division) championship I would say. I feel like once that we won that or clinched that as a team, I felt like we all as a team, or everybody in the clubhouse, took a deep breath and was like, ‘Alright, we got that out of the way, now we can play our baseball. We can throw strikes, we can hit the ball, we can play good defence and move runners over when we have to, get those clutch hits. To me, that’s what I would say our turning point was, simply because of the way that we backed into the first-half championship.

“Once we clinched the first half, it wasn’t that the second half was like, ‘Oh man, we don’t have to play as hard, we’re already going to the playoffs.’ It was very much, ‘Well, we won the first half, now let’s win the second half.’ That way, we can basically eliminate one of the other teams that we didn’t really play so well. That way we controlled everybody else’s destiny as opposed to our destiny was in someone else’s hands like a Spokane or a Eugene or maybe even Everett.”

Vancouver Canadians William Ouellette

William Ouellette ran his record to 4-0 with a win over Eugene July 2.

Ouellette on being named a Northwest League All-Star.

“I thought the All-Star Game was a ton of fun. The manager of the All-Star Game of my All-Star team (Hillsboro’s Shawn Roof) said that to embrace this because for some of us, it might be our only All-Star team. For me, up until this point of my career, it has been the only All-Star team I’ve ever made. That was a big accomplishment. I found out when we were in Tri-City. It was after our game, after we had won, I got a text from our trainer that said ‘Bring your passport to the field.’ I was a little thrown off. I was like, ‘Why would I need my passport? That doesn’t make sense.’ But I brought it and then I didn’t think anything of it and then (C’s manager) Rich Miller, we had a meeting in the clubhouse and said, ‘Hey, by the way, Orlando Pascual, Riley Adams and William Ouellette, you guys are All-Stars so congratulations! Go get ‘em in Hillsboro.’

“It felt like you were an All-Star because of the Fan Fest and the way that everything was set up. Everything that we were given, I felt like I was in the big leagues even though I was just at a minor-league All-Star game so that was a great experience for me and something that I’ll always remember.”

Ouellette on his favourite stadiums in the Northwest League.

“In terms of just like playing surface, I thought Spokane was awesome. The field was really nice. They got a lot of fans although it was very quiet with 5,000 people. It’s not like Nat Bailey where you could hear those guys from it seems like downtown. Those fans get so loud there. Hillsboro was cool, their 2,500-3000 fans were also very loud. They really got into the game. They cheered on their players, they really got behind their players, much like our fans at Nat Bailey so that was awesome. It was a cool experience to play in some of those stadiums.”

Vancouver Canadians William Ouellette

William Ouellette found a home in the C’s bullpen in 2017.

Ouellette on when he felt he hit his stride in 2017.

“Believe it or not, it was actually during extended spring training I would say. I went into spring training with a goal of making the Lansing roster and I thought I pitched well during spring training but I didn’t make the Lansing roster. There was a time we were playing the Braves in extended spring training. I go into a game, I have a clean first inning and my second inning, there were two infield singles and an error and I ended up pitching my way out of it with no outs and the bases loaded. I had to make some good pitches, some good, quality pitches in what I felt was like a high-leverage situation. For me, it felt like from that point on, I was confident. I had the most confidence in the word, like ‘Man, I can get anybody out. I can put the ball where I want, my slider feels good.’ At that time I was still throwing my changeup because there’s no statistics during extended but I took all those games seriously because for me, I was still trying to win a job. Being an undrafted free agent, I don’t have much leverage when it comes to success or failure.”

Ouellette on joining the Blue Jays organization.

“It was mainly the Blue Jays who were really talking to me because the scout (Jim Lentine) who ended up signing me, we were in contact basically all weekend (before) the draft. He kept telling me, ‘Like hey, you’re probably not going to go day two, if you’re going to go, it’ll be late day three. I just said, ‘Alright, no problem.’ We were actually in San Francisco for my Dad’s reunion – the ’86 (San Francisco Giants) reunion team. Me and my brothers and my Mom, we were watching the draft on my phone although I really tried not to think about it. I didn’t want to think about it but being day three, at that point, it was either now or never so I really started to watch the draft, check who was picking, check who the Blue Jays picked. The very last pick had came and my brothers looked at me, I had looked at them and we didn’t say hardly anything. About 10 seconds later, Jim the scout had called me and said, ‘William, I know the draft is over. We didn’t pick you but we’re going to give you a contract and there will be a plane ticket out if you want to sign.’ I said, ‘Jim, when do I leave?’ and that was it.”

Ouellette on spending 2016 in the Gulf Coast League.

“It was hot. It was hot and humid. I knew it was going to be hot but I had never been in a humid environment like that. It was a little different at first but my pitching coach at the time, Juan Rincon, helped me make the transition from being an everyday player in college to pitching and learning how to pitch. He really got me through the doorway I would say, to help me hit the ground running.”

Ouellette on his introduction to pitching.

“I had a lot of doubts when I was in college. I was asked, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about pitching?’ I always said, ‘I prefer to play shortstop until I don’t have a choice anymore.’ My senior year in college came and I went up to my coach and I said, ‘Coach, I want to pitch. I want to pitch too.’ He said, ‘Alright, well, let’s see what you got.’

I threw a bullpen before that day, I pitched in some intersquad games and then our opening weekend of the season, it was a 2-1 ballgame in the eighth inning and we were on the road so after we came in to hit, (the coach) said, ‘Hey, you’re going in for the ninth.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay!’ So I ran down into the bullpen, got loose and came in for my first save. I did both for the remainder of the season, I played shortstop and I closed games out for us as well.’

Ouellette on being a closer.

“I personally love it. I enjoy the high-leverage situation. For me, it makes me feel that I can’t make mistakes. Of course, everybody is going to make a mistake but I just feel like in those situations, my stuff is maybe a little sharper, a little harder. You have the adrenaline rush that comes along in being a one-run ball game or something like that. My job is no different than anybody else’s but it’s a little bit more special because if I do end up closing the game, we get to shake hands after the game – that’s probably the coolest part.”

Ouellette on getting the call to close out Game 4 of the Northwest League final.

“Me and my pitching coach (Jim Czajkowski), we were talking about it during batting practice that day. Me and (Orlando) Pascual, we were kind of ‘A and B ‘or ‘A1 and A2’ throughout the season. I was told that the reason that I did go in in that game was because I had got (Will Remillard) out in Game 3. (Editor’s note – Ouellette got Remillard to pop up to first to end the eighth inning of Game 3, stranding two runners enroute to a four-out save.) When he was announced as the pinch-hitter, it was almost instantaneous that I was going to go in.

The reasoning behind it was Pascual has a devastating changeup but it will float into a right-handed hitter. With the smaller fence in left field as opposed to our gigantic wall in right field…all the way through left-center, one of the more important things that I learned from (Czajkowski) was you don’t want to get beat pull-side late into a game or a save situation like that. With Pascual’s changeup coming into the barrel of that right-handed hitter, we didn’t want to get beat pull-side. Czajkowski or (manager) Rich Miller made the decision and trusted me to locate my fastball down and away and my slider in the dirt and the rest is history.”

Ouellette on pitching in Games 3 and 4 of the Northwest League final, which marked the first back-to-back appearances for the first time in his pro career.

“I was a little tired when I first showed up to the field but as the game gets on and continues on and we end up scoring those two runs in the (fifth) inning, from that point on, I was locked in. I was like, ‘Alright, I want the ball. I want to get those last three outs, I want to bring this home for us, for Vancouver, for the Toronto Blue Jays, for my teammates.’ Ultimately, I did feel like I had enough in the tank and if (Will Remillard) did happen to get on (base), I feel like I still had enough for the next guy so it was win or lose at that point.”

Ouellette on the final pitch of the season.

“That was the best thing I have ever did on a baseball field. The pitch before actually was a slider in the dirt that I thought (Remillard) would chase and he kind of did like a little check swing on it. I knew if I threw the next one for a strike, he had no chance to hit it. He ended up taking it. As soon as I threw it, I knew it was going to be a strike and as soon as Riley (Adams) caught it, he didn’t even wait for the umpire to call strike three. He just ran out and gave me a giant bear hug. I threw my glove, I didn’t even know or care where it landed. It was the best thing I’ve ever done on a baseball field and I will remember that for the rest of my life.”

Vancouver Canadians William Ouellette

William Ouellette waves to the crowd during the C’s celebration of their Northwest League title.

Ouellette on the short-lived celebration.

“It kind of did suck leaving the next day because we had host families and you spend all summer long being at their house. For me and my host family—Jennifer, Wes, Callum and Quinn—I really got to know them, got to enjoy some quality time with them. They really took time out of their schedule to show me the city, show me North Vancouver, show me what the city has to offer. I really appreciate everything that they did for me. Not being able to spend my afternoon with them after we had won and after we had celebrated. The next day, at 10:00 am, I feel like I’m leaving my family. Even though they’re not blood, or blood-related, I definitely felt like I was leaving home.”

Ouellette on his off-season plans.

“I just got home from the Dominican Republic (in October). I was there for a week along with nine other of my American teammates in the Blue Jays organization. We were down there experiencing the Dominican Republic, experiencing the culture of what (Dominican players) they have to go through, what they have to deal with before they come to the United States and that was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I am going to work at Sky Zone where I worked at last off-season and then I am going to start my weight-lifting routine next week and start getting into even better shape than I was this year for the 2018 season.”

If 2017 is any indication, Ouellette will be more than ready for his first taste of full-season baseball in 2018.

My thanks again to William Ouellette for taking the time to chat with me. Our conservation took place on the night of Game 1 of the World Series. He assured me that even if the game was still on when I called, he was still available to chat with me. As it turned out, the game was long over by the time I got around to calling him but I wanted to acknowledge his willingness to still take time out of his evening to talk to me and it was very much appreciated. I certainly wish him all the best in his baseball career moving forward.

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C’s Recap – World Series Edition

C's RecapThe Houston Astros ended the season like the Vancouver Canadians did—as champions! The Astros won their first-ever World Series title by outlasting the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.

Even though Game 7 was not exactly a thriller, a number of Vancouver Canadians players—past and present—took to Twitter to voice their opinions on what was still a classic Fall Classic.



brandon_polizzi_tweet_season_over Only 147 more days until Opening Day 2018 and 225 days until the Northwest League season opener.


C's NotesThere is still some baseball to follow with major league prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League. A couple of former C’s will be taking part in the AFL Fall Stars Game. 2014 catcher Max Pentecost and 2016 righthander T.J. Zeuch will represent the Toronto Blue Jays at the Saturday, November 4 contest at Salt River Fields.

Pentecost has hit just .216 in 37 at-bats for Peoria but does have a home run, a double and four runs batted in. Zeuch has a microscopic 0.64 earned run average over 14 innings with a 11-4 strikeout-walk total and a 0.79 WHIP.

2014 C’s outfielder Jonathan Davis is slashing .283/.377/.348 with three doubles and three stolen bases for the Javelinas. 2014-2015 C’s hurler Andrew Case has seven shutout innings to his credit with just four hits allowed and a 4-0 K/BB total.

2015-2016 righty Jackson McClelland has a 9.00 ERA over six innings while 2015 lefty Danny Young has an ERA of 18.00 over five innings.

Here are some other Tweets of interest over the latter half of October.


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C’s Chat – Brayden Bouchey

Vancouver Canadians Brayden Bouchey

Brayden Bouchey made his Nat Bailey Stadium debut with one-third of a scoreless frame to finish off a 7-1 victory over the Everett AquaSox June 20.

cs_chat_logoThe lone Canadian of the Vancouver Canadians bullpen took 20 minutes of his time to chat about the 2017 season. The pride of White Rock, B.C.—righthander Brayden Bouchey (pronounced ‘BOO-shay’)graciously addressed a number of questions I had for him, including what it was like to be a part of both a championship team and his hometown team.

“It was awesome. I didn’t have much success, my teams in college (Odessa College and University of Louisiana-Monroe) didn’t have much success and never really got to play in the playoffs so it was pretty cool just on that experience to play in the playoffs and ultimately getting to go to the finals and win it, it was a really cool experience. Something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life, for sure.

Not many guys get to experience playing college or professional baseball in their hometown so getting to win to a championship, I mean, that’s even less likely to happen so it was super special and I’ll cherish it forever.”

Bouchey spun six perfect innings in the C’s playoff run, with two of those goose eggs coming in the championshp clincher in Game 4 against the Eugene Emeralds. His biggest out was inducing a lineout to center field off the bat of Miguel Amaya to start the seventh inning. With the C’s nursing a 2-1 lead, it was a huge out after Amaya was given another life at the plate when a foul pop up fell in between catcher Riley Adams and first baseman Kacy Clemens moments before. Adams and Clemens were the two most thankful people in the park after Bouchey came to the rescue.

“Baseball is one of those games that stuff like that happens all the time. It actually happened in Eugene, the same sort of play. Riley and Kacy kind of had a little bit of miscommunication on it so when it happened in Vancouver, I know they were both pretty rattled about it and I’ll tell you that but right after it happened, Kacy came out to me and basically said, ‘Hey man, you got to pick us up right here.’

I went back out, just kept attacking the guy. (Amaya) actually squared that ball up pretty good off me but the ball doesn’t travel out to center field very well so Reggie (Pruitt) was able to get under it and make the out there. I just stayed within my game and as a pitcher, you can’t let stuff like that rattle you, right? You got to just control what you can control so as soon as you let the ball go, it’s out of your hands. You’ve done everything that you can do unless the ball gets hit to you so you just got to deal with it and stay positive.”

Bouchey on being honoured as a Northwest League champion by the B.C. Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“It’s been a lot of fun. Obviously, It would be a little bit more sweet if all the other guys were out there with me. It does feel a little weird going out there by myself. It’s weird because people really don’t understand the way that minor league baseball works in that we won the championship and then at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, everyone was on their way to the airport to fly back home so it’s weird in that sense but it’s been nice to experience and the front office was really great about it in inviting me to all the events.

I’ve got another one coming up. We’re going to the lacrosse game (Vancouver Stealth) in January so that will be another fun one. It’s definitely been cool getting to experience kind of the championship parade sort of atmosphere of professional sports so it’s been fun. There’ll be a couple of more coming up so I’m looking forward to it.”

Bouchey on watching games as a youngster and getting to pitch at Nat Bailey Stadium with the C’s.

“I was pretty busy, especially throughout high school playing ball myself and doing other things but I definitely went to a few (games at Nat Bailey Stadium). I thought it was pretty cool. I never really thought I’d have a chance at professional baseball until 12th grade or whatever. I grinded through college for a few years but getting to talk to the Blue Jays before the draft and thinking there might be a chance to get to play there was definitely something that I wanted to happen and it did so it was pretty special for me and my family.”

Bouchey on getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016.

“I was actually playing in a dodge ball tournament with some of my buddies so it was pretty cool to get that call around a bunch of my friends. My mom and my sister were there so it was a fun day and I got to spend it with a lot of my friends and family. It was pretty special getting drafted by the team I grew up watching the most.”

Bouchey on his baseball idol, New Westminster, BC native and Minnesota Twins great Justin Morneau and wearing #33.

“Morneau was definitely a guy that I looked up to in life. He just played the game hard and wasn’t too flashy about anything but got the job done numerous times. He was a B.C. boy that made it and got to live out that dream and so I definitely looked up to him.

The number 33 actually, I was given it my first year at Odessa College. When I transferred the next year at ULM, they had given it to me as well. I guess they saw that I wore it in junior college so it kind of followed me around there. Weird thing is, I got drafted in the 33rd round. The number just kind of stuck with me. It’s a good number, I like it so I just stuck with it. It’s kind of my thing now.”

Bouchey on the transition from college to professional baseball.

“In college ball, you’re practicing most days and then you have your games. In pro ball, it’s more you’re out there on the field, having not a full practice but doing a lot of things before the game and then you’re playing at night so you really got a full day of baseball whereas in college, you definitely have other things that you have to worry about with school or whatnot.

I think I was pretty well prepared for the professional baseball lifestyle from going down to tournaments in the States with the Langley Blaze where we would go down on our Arizona spring training trip and we would actually play a bunch of pro and college teams so that kind of got us ready and we were playing every day so the amount of baseball I had played leading up to college and pro ball got me ready for the grind of the season.”

Vancouver Canadians Brayden Bouchey

Brayden Bouchey compiled an earned run average of 1.26 in the second half of the season.

It was quite the grind for Bouchey during the first half of the year with Vancouver as he struggled to the tune of a 10.80 earned run average that was inflated by five straight appearances in which he gave up runs. The 22 year-old settled down as he gave up just two earned runs the rest of the way over his final 16 appearances in the regular season. Bouchey was not surprised by his successful turnaround.

“I always knew I had that in me. I had actually been pitching very well leading up to the season in extended spring training. I don’t know if I lost focus or let the big stage of Vancouver get to me a little bit. I think I was just trying a little too much. Obviously being from the area, it kind of brings a little bit of pressure on you.

About halfway through the season, I really stepped back and said, ‘Look, it’s a game.’ Obviously it’s my job but I got to have fun doing it and I just got to relax a little bit. I started not to care less but just relax and just let it happen, control what I can control so I think ultimately, that kind of helped me out and put me on the right track and got me in the right mentality. It ended up working out.

The second half was obviously really good but I think I learned a lot about myself in that first half and now if I get a little rut throughout the season, I kind of know of how to deal with it and I think that is going to help me going forward in my career.”

Bouchey emphasized the adjustment he made was on the mental side.

“It wasn’t anything really physically. I didn’t go and make any big changes in my mechanics or my delivery. I might have tweaked a couple of things here or there but I think it was more of just getting myself in the right mental state and just going out there every day and having fun and trying to get better.”

Bouchey on how he gets focused on the mound during a game.

“I try to just look at the catcher the whole time, trying to just make sure that I’m not paying attention to anything in the stands because it definitely has a presence there throughout and it’s very easy to get distracted. For me, whenever my heart gets pumping a little too fast, I just turn toward the center field wall, just kind of take my hat off, take a couple of deep breaths and get ready to go again so that’s my way of dealing with it.

A lot of guys are different. Some people actually look at something in the stands and whenever they need to take a breath or whatever, they’ll go back and find fans that they’re looking at. It comes down to finding something that works for you and building your routine. That’s something that the Blue Jays have actually been pushing for us and they worked a lot on it with us in spring training., building a routine and finding something that works for you. It just comes down to trial and error. You got to find what works, right?”

Vancouver Canadians Brayden Bouchey

Brayden Bouchey was ‘Mr. September’ for the C’s as he threw seven perfect innings, six of them in the playoffs.

Bouchey on working with C’s pitching coach Jim Czajkowski.

“He definitely knows his stuff. Really a big baseball guy so you can go and really talk to him about anything, any side of the game – hitting, pitching, whatever – he knows it all. He helped me out a lot with getting back on track, staying within my delivery and he gave me a lot of confidence in my curveball which, for me, is my difference maker. He told me that repeatedly throughout the season. That’s kind of my bread and butter and what I got to live and die by. He kind of got me back in that comfort zone and being able to throw that for a strike and throw it out of the zone when I needed somebody to chase it. He definitely knows his stuff and he’s a great coach. He helped a lot of guys on the team. I think if you go and talk to anyone on our staff, they’ll say the same thing. He helped them out throughout the season.”

Bouchey on the development of his curveball.

“Honestly, I don’t really remember when I started it. I know I’ve thrown it pretty much since I was 13 or 14 on. I wasn’t primarily a pitcher until I was about 16. I worked on it but it wasn’t like I put too much effort into it, it just kind of came naturally to me. The past four or five years, being a pitcher only, I’ve had the time to tweak it and kind of get a better feel for it. Now it’s more like I know I can get a better feel of when I’m in relief and I’m up of how I want it to spin, which way I want it to move, where it started and where it ultimately ends up in the zone. It’s just a process, it’s trial and error, you just got to keep throwing it until you figure it out.”

Bouchey on his pitching repertoire.

“I throw majority fastball-curveball. I really improved my changeup this year towards the end of the season. There’s not too many times coming of the bullpen where I would feel the need to throw it, especially if it was a close game, trying to still get outs while working on stuff and getting the team a win. I didn’t feel really comfortable throwing it but when I did throw it, it’s been a lot better than previous years.

I throw a changeup, curveball, fastball and I threw a slider more often at the beginning of the year. When I started throwing my curveball more than my slider, that’s when I started doing a little bit better so my slider is a little bit of a work in progress and I don’t throw it too often but it’s there and it’s something that I’m working on.”


Brayden Bouchey was given a ride out of the bullpen to the Nat Bailey Stadium mound 17 times in 2017.

All of Bouchey’s 27 appearances were in relief in 2017 but he believes he could be a starter if he gets the chance.

“I started in college so I’m familiar with it. Obviously, I’d like to do that but it’s whatever the organization wants for me, right? Either way, I’m good with the bullpen. I’m used to it now and I actually enjoy it. If they want me to start, that’s definitely something that I’m open to.”

Bouchey on his off-season plans.

“The last couple of weeks, I’ve started my workouts. I got a job at a sports store here. Just kind of hanging low, working out, getting my stuff done, start throwing in a little bit. Just working on getting stronger and getting in better shape and getting physically ready to show up to spring training and make a full-season team this next year.”

Given the way his season ended, Bouchey should be a member of the Lansing Lugnuts in 2018 as he gets his first taste of full-season baseball and takes another step towards his goal of becoming a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

My thanks again to Brayden Bouchey for this interview.

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C’s Recap – Vancouver Canadians 2018 Schedule Revealed


The 2018 schedule for the Vancouver Canadians schedule has a number of similarities to 2017. (Schedule courtesy of CanadiansBaseball.com)

Vancouver Canadians, Looking AheadLightning has struck twice for the Vancouver Canadians in its 2018 schedule. Their first eight games next year will be played on the same dates and at the same venues as 2017. The only difference is the 2018 season begins on a Friday instead of a Thursday.

The schedule has the C’s opening up 2018 in Eugene in a rematch of the 2017 Northwest League final June 15-19. Instead of being the hunter against the 2016 champion Emeralds, the C’s will be the hunted as the 2017 champs. After that series, Vancouver will return home to Nat Bailey Stadium for the unveiling of the 2017 Northwest League championship banner June 20 in the opener of a three-game set against the Everett AquaSox, the same club the C’s began their home slate with in 2017.

Vancouver Canadians

The boys of summer will return to Nat Bailey Stadium June 20, 2018 as the C’s will host the Everett AquaSox.

In another similarity to this past season, the Canadians will take on the second-half North Division champion Spokane Indians right after their series with Everett but the difference this time is the C’s will have to board the bus to Washington. The last time the club tried to play in Spokane was Game 1 of the 2017 North Division playoffs but it was cancelled due to poor air quality caused by forest fires in the area.

After the June 23-25 series at Avista Stadium, the C’s return to the friendly confines of The Nat for an eight-game homestand that begins with three games against the Tri-City Dust Devils June 26-28 before the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes appear for the Canada Day series June 29-July 3. The July 1 and 2 contests are both afternoon games at 1:05 pm.

Vancouver is back on the road for the 4th of July with the first of three games in Everett. Spokane will return to Vancouver for the first time since dropping the North Division final for a three-game series July 7-9 and that will be followed by a trip to Idaho to face the Boise Hawks for five games before heading over to Tri-City to wrap up an eight-game swing.

The C’s will conclude the first half of the 2018 schedule with five games at home against the Hillsboro Hops, the only team that had Vancouver’s number in 2017 by winning seven of 10 games that included a gut-wrenching five-game sweep at The Nat.

Vancouver will launch the second half of their campaign July 24 at home with three games against Everett before welcoming Eugene for the first time since last year’s championship cage match to wrap up the month of July.

August will see the Canadians travel to Hillsboro for a five-game cage series before the Northwest League-Pioneer League All-Star Break in Grand Junction, Colorado August 6-8. The C’s will be back on the road for five more against Salem-Keizer before finally returning north of the border for three games against North Division rivals Tri-City and Spokane August 14-19. The Canadians head to Tri-City for three more before coming back for an eight-game homestand with five against Boise and three against Everett with a day-off in between. After their August 31 home finale, the C’s conclude the regular season in Spokane over the Labour Day weekend September 1-3.

Vancouver Canadians 2017 Northwest League Champions

If the C’s are to grab hold of the Bob Freitas Trophy as Northwest League champions in 2018, they’ll have to do it on the road.

The Northwest League post-season begins with the best-of-three division finals September 5-7 with the best-of-five final following afterwards from September 8-12. The first two games would be hosted by the North Division winner with the final three at the home of the South Division champion. That means if the C’s make it that far, they will have to win the championship clincher in enemy territory to keep the Bob Freitas Trophy.

Steve Ewen of The Vancouver Province also has a breakdown of the 2018 schedule.


Vancouver Canadians Samad Taylor

C’s second baseman Samad Taylor earned a nod by Baseball America as one of the top prospects in short-season baseball.

C's NotesIn my previous story about four Vancouver Canadians players earning recognition from Baseball America by being named among its Top 20 prospects in the Northwest League, there was one other C’s player who was a Top-20 prospect in short-season baseball. Second baseman Samad Taylor was rated as the New York-Penn League’s #15 prospect when he was with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Taylor and left-handed pitcher Thomas Pannone were acquired by the Blue Jays from Cleveland in the trade that sent reliever Joe Smith to Ohio. The 19 year-old right-handed hitting Taylor slashed .300/.328/.467 in 120 at-bats with Mahoning Valley. The Corona, California native had six doubles, one triple and four home runs before his change of address. After a brief stint in Bluefield, Taylor batted .294/.342/.426 with Vancouver in 19 games in which he collected three doubles and two home runs. He also recorded a hit in his first three play-off games.

Now let’s look at the C’s around the Twitter-verse.

Bad news for the father of C’s 2016-2017 infielder/outfielder Mattingly Romanin as his father Mal Romanin was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a tough day as 20 people received pink slips, including digital marketing manager April Whitzman, a terrific ambassador the club as she was the MLB Fan Cave Blue Jays representative and promoted them extensively through her Twitter account and that of her cat Jose Meowtista. It’s the latest in a string of questionable firings by the Mark Shapiro administration that included the ousting of C’s manager Rich Miller despite winning Northwest League manager of the year honours along with a league championship.

It sucks to see good people lose their jobs. Combined with the fact the club announced a raise in ticket prices despite a debacle of a season, it makes me question why I cheer for this club. I guess I can still support the troops on the field but not the ones who are giving the orders.

These developments have me wondering about the future of the Blue Jays-Canadians affiliation as their Player Development Contract is set to expire at the end of the 2018 season. With the field at Nat Bailey now in top condition, there is no reason why a four-year extension should not be signed to cement the relationship between Canada’s professional ball clubs. PDC’s are usually signed in two- or four-year increments and it was a two-year deal the Shapiro administration agreed to last time with the C’s, unlike the four-year agreement that was agreed to when Alex Anthopoulos was running things. One would think it’s a no-brainer but I wonder if the brass would prefer to have all of its affiliates in the Eastern Time zone again and have a minor league entry in the New York-Penn League. A decision should be made by the time the C’s hold its Annual Hot Stove Luncheon in January.


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C’s Recap – Warmoth, Adams, Vicuna & Pruitt Rated Among Northwest League’s Top 20 Prospects By Baseball America

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth was the highest-rated shortstop among Northwest League prospects according to Baseball America.

C's RecapFour members of the 2017 Northwest League champion Vancouver Canadians were recognized by Baseball America in October 20-November 3 issue. Shortstop Logan Warmoth, catcher Riley Adams, shortstop Kevin Vicuna and center fielder Reggie Pruitt all landed spots on the publication’s Top 20 Prospects list for the NWL.

Warmoth was ranked the highest among the four at number six after hitting .306/.356/.419 with 11 doubles, two triples and a home run. The 22 year-old right-handed hitter drove in 20 runs and stole five bases in seven attempts. The Orlando native also had a home run in the postseason during the Division final versus the Spokane Indians and drove in the championship-winning run against the Eugene Emeralds in Game 4 of the league final.

Vancouver Canadians Riley Adams

Riley Adams was the second-highest rated catcher among Northwest League prospects.

Adams just missed joining Warmoth in the top 10 as he was slotted in at number 11. The 21 year-old right-handed hitter from Encinitas, California led the C’s in hitting with a .305 batting average that placed him in the Northwest League’s top 10. His on-base percentage of .374 and slugging percentage of .438 were also top 10 numbers.

On BaseballAmerica.com, Michael Lananna hosted a Northwest League prospects chat and was asked one question about Adams.

Kingsley (Toronto, Canada): How is Riley Adams's receiving game coming along? I read some scouting report that it was his weakness in his defense.

Michael Lananna: I got good reports on his receiving. That was a question for him heading into the draft, and it’s still something he’ll need to continue to work on, but from everyone I talked to, his receiving has taken strides forward.

Vancouver Canadians Kevin Vicuna

Kevin Vicuna was the second Vancouver shortstop that was ranked by Baseball America in its Northwest League prospects list.

Vicuna and Pruitt rounded out the top 20 by ranking 19th and 20th respectively. The 19 year-old Vicuna began the year in Dunedin and ended it in Lansing but in between, the right-handed hitter from Puerto La Cruz, Venezula batted .280/.333/.307 with three doubles, one triple, 17 runs driven in and 14 stolen bases in 21 attempts.

Vancouver Canadians Reggie Pruitt

Reggie Pruitt rounded out Baseball America’s Top 20 prospects list in the Northwest League.

The 20 year-old right-handed hitting Pruitt batted .229/.295/.295 overall but that masked a much-improved second half that saw him hit .270 in July and .250 in August. The Kennesaw, Georgia native collected nine doubles, two triples and two home runs. He really made his mark on the basepaths with 28 stolen bases in 36 tries and in the outfield with several dazzling defensive plays.

Vancouver Canadians Nate Pearson

Nate Pearson was a few innings shy of qualifying for the Northwest League top prospects list from Baseball America.

The one notable omission from the NWL Top 20 list was right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson as he did not pitch enough innings to qualify according to BA guidelines.

In seven starts, Pearson posted a strikeout/walk total of 24-5 in 19 innings with an earned run average of 0.95. He allowed just one run over eight innings in the playoffs while striking out 14 and walking six.

To qualify for a Minor League Top 20 Prospects list, a position player must have one plate appearance per team game, a starting pitcher must have one-third of an inning per team game and a reliever must have 20 relief appearances.

With the C’s 76-game schedule, Pearson pitched 19 innings for the club and that falls short of the 25-1/3 inning threshold. However, the 2017 first round pick of the Central College of Florida was a hot topic of discussion during the prospects chat.

Roger (Greenville, SC): How high is Nate Pearson's upside, and what are the odds he can remain a starter?

Michael Lananna: Lots of questions about Pearson, and rightfully so. He was dominant this summer and drew rave reviews from everyone who saw him. He likely would’ve ranked in the top 3, certainly the top 5. Pearson’s upside is extremely high given his arm strength and ability to already dial up his fastball to triple-digits. He also (has) the chance for a plus changeup. Whether he sticks as a starter is going to be dependent on the development of his breaking ball. It’s in there; he just needs to find more consistency with it.

Pearson turned out to a popular topic on the chat.

Michael Lananna: Any more questions about players not named Nate Pearson? (No offense, Nate.)

There’s no question 2017 was a successful year for the Vancouver Canadians, even for players not named Nate.

C’s Notes

C's Notes

A couple of stories for your consideration…

  • InsideHalton.com has a story on C’s infielder Mattingly Romanin.
  • JaysFromTheCouch.com has an interview with 2014-2015 C’s lefty Ryan Borucki.

C’s Fast Forward

Vancouver Canadians, Looking AheadSome clues as to what the Vancouver Canadians 2018 schedule  will look like have been provided by the Everett AquaSox and the Tri-City Dust Devils.

According to the AquaSox schedule, Everett will visit Nat Bailey Stadium June 20-22 and August 29-31 before hosting the C’s July 4-6 and July 24-26. The games at Everett Memorial Stadium are at 7:05 pm except for the 26th which starts at 11:05 am.

The Dust Devils slate has Tri-City playing north of the border on June 26-28 and August 14-16. The C’s will spend July 16-18 and August 20-22 in Pasco, Washington. The games at Gesa Stadium will begin at 7:15 pm.

The 2018 Northwest League regular season starts June 15 and ends September 3. The best-of-three Divison finals are set for September 5-7 and the best-of-five championship final is scheduled for September 8-12.

Only 245 more days until the C’s begin their defence of the Northwest League title.

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